A NEW resource set to help 'accidental counsellors' in the farming community is now available. 

The University of Exeter and the Farming Health Hub have now created a new website, called Accidental Counsellors, to help people who work with farmers and often find themselves lending an ear to those in distress. 

The resource is to help those who work in the agricultural community, such as accountants, land agents, vets or feed suppliers, to link farmers with health and wellbeing support services. It provides guidance, contacts and information about relevant training to help people signpost farmers to make sure they most appropriate support. 

Dr Rebecca Wheeler, from the University of Exeter's Centre for Rural Policy Research, said: “We know that there are many such professionals who offer support in different ways to members of the farming community through their contact with agricultural workers as part of their jobs.

"We also know this can be very difficult at times, as farmers face huge financial and personal challenges whilst working to feed the nation, and it’s not always easy to know how to respond or where to turn for help.”

The resource follows research undertaken by the University of Exeter and Farming Health Hub, which highlighted the important role these 'accidental counsellors' have in suporting the difficulties that farmers experience. 

Nikki Kelly, of the Faming Health Hub (now part of the ImagineIf Partnership), said: “Rural farmers are grappling with a multitude of challenges that negatively affect their health and well-being. At the same time, they struggle to access and engage with health and well-being services and support.

"But professionals who closely support farmers with various aspects of their farm business, such as accountants, vets and bank managers, can play a key role in signposting to support with health-related issues. These professionals are trusted by farmers, because they have built up rapport with them through long years of continuous relationship.”

A new 'Accidental Counsellors in Farming' LinkedIn group has also been created in order to provide peer support. 

Dr Lucy Szaboova, also from the University of Exeter, added: “It’s extremely important that 'accidental counsellors' look after their own wellbeing too. Reflecting on their experiences in a trusted space can help to lighten the load and we hope as many people as possible will join the new LinkedIn community, as well as access the resources on the new website.”